‘Horrors’ of martial law remembered in rallies
MANILA, Philippines — Wearing face masks and holding placards and streamers, hundreds of protesters on Monday joined the nationwide protest actions on the 48th anniversary of the declaration of martial law by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
In Baguio City, over 100 activists held a public forum at Sunshine Park to tackle what they described as the “horrors” brought by Marcos’ martial law in 1972.
A University of the Philippines Baguio professor, Ruel Caricativo, discussed the continuing historical revisionism of Marcos’ dictatorship.
United Church of the Philippines Bishop Reuel Marigza, through a video conference, talked about the existence of what he said was a “de facto martial law” under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The same concern was raised by protesters from the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance, Women Resist Tyranny, and Movement Against Tyranny-Metro Baguio.
“We commemorate martial law today and urge the people to rise up, continue to defy state tyranny and repression. We are challenged to live by the lessons of the Filipino people’s resistance against dictatorship,” the groups said in a joint statement.
In Pampanga, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) in Central Luzon held simultaneous protest actions in the province on the anniversary of martial law.
Pol Viuya, Bayan regional chair, said a “de facto martial law is in place” in the country, citing Mr. Duterte’s appointment of retired military generals to government positions and his allotment of funds for “systematic and sustained” attacks on his critics.
In Iloilo City, 400 people, led by the Panay People’s Coalition, gathered at Iloilo Sunburst Park for a program before marching on the main streets.
The protesters, among them members of church groups, progressive and opposition organizations and parties, human rights advocates and martial law survivors, were seated at least a meter apart and wore masks as part of health protocols.
“The Marcoses are back in power and remain unrepentant for their plunder of the country and massive human rights violations,” Siegfred Deduro, vice president for the Visayas of the Makabayan coalition, said during the program.
Deduro, who was among those detained during martial law, said the pandemic was being used by the Duterte administration to suppress basic civil liberties like freedom of expression.
“We are already experiencing the resurgence of dictatorship,” said Wharson Arguelles of the Ilonggos Against Terror Act.
Similar protests were held at the Roxas City Bandstand in Capiz province and in Kalibo, Aklan province.
“May this day serve as a reminder for us to defend our country from whatever form of dictatorship. Never again,” Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said in a statement.
In Davao City, Duterte’s hometown, police set up chairs for activists and cordoned off Freedom Park in anticipation of a rally against the martial law commemoration.
Cora Espinoza, vice chair of Gabriela in Southern Mindanao and one of those tagged as “terrorists” in posters that circulated in Davao, said the setup made by the police only “made them uncomfortable.”
But Davao City police chief, Col. John Kirby Kraft, said: “We set up the chairs [there] so that they can observe social distancing and so that they can express their sentiment about martial law.”
Kraft said the protesters did not show up at the venue.“We are no longer free to express what we feel,” said Datu Mentroso Malibato, vice chair of the Lumad group Pasaka.
—Reports from Tonette Orejas, Kimberlie Quitasol, Nestor Burgos Jr., Carla Gomez and Germelina Lacorte
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